When I get overwhelmed by my stuff – and I can’t figure out what to do with it – I remember to use my energy question.
I ask myself how I feel with regard to the thing.
If the thing is a material object that I don’t love or use regularly, but I still can’t get rid of it – I ask myself how it makes me feel. This works extremely well when my mind is full of rationalizations about why I should keep it – like, “well, I paid a lot of money for this thing,” or “it was my grandmother’s thing and even though I don’t use it or love it – I should hang on to it,” or “someday I might use this thing,” and so on.
As you know, you can get really bogged down by rationalizations. If you have a lot of rationalizations in your life – you can literally get depressed and stuck.
YOUR ENERGY GETS DRAINED WITHOUT YOU REALIZING IT
Just think about this for a minute. Starting with your house – if you look around and see too much stuff, and you have rationalizations about why you’re keeping a lot of it – your energy gets drained without you realizing it. It’s all very subconscious and very powerful. Your eyes take in all of these various objects and your subconscious mind immediately registers a good feeling or a negative one for every single object. Rationalizing means that you don’t really want the thing but you’re trying to convince yourself that you should keep it. Your subconscious mind, however, cannot rationalize. It only knows how it feels – which is where your deepest truth is.
If you keep sabotaging your deepest truth – you get depressed and you lose your energy.
Asking yourself how you feel when looking at every object is the simplest, most straightforward method I know of to keep your house clutter free. Of course, you have to act on your feelings and get rid of everything you don’t love or use regularly. Clearing clutter this way is not only a really effective way to keep your house clean and clear, but even more importantly, it keeps your mind happy and light.
ASKING THE ENERGY QUESTION APPLIES TO BIG QUESTIONS, TOO
Asking the energy question, “How does this make me feel,” also works for everything else in your life – from relationships to jobs to your home – even to how you think. All you have to do is ask yourself how you feel when looking at a thing, or when trying to decide whether to buy a certain house or rent a particular apartment – whether to stay in a job or relationship, and even – how to clear out your negative thoughts.
Let’s start with your stuff because it’s the easiest place to practice using your feelings to make decisions.
Pick a place in your house that has too much stuff. Maybe it’s a curio cabinet or a bookshelf. If it’s a curio cabinet, take each item out of the cabinet and look at it. Without thinking – ask yourself how it makes you feel when you look at it. Happy? Sad? Neutral? Angry? How could you be angry when looking at a thing? Well, let’s say you were awarded some pricey art object in your divorce and it was a painful divorce. When you look at this object – no matter how beautiful it may be, no matter what it’s value – when you look at it, do you feel a tinge of anger or sadness about your divorce?
YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND KNOWS THE TRUTH
If you want to lose a lot of emotional weight – a lot of it – then I would suggest finding a new home for this beautiful object that you should love – but that drains your energy and maybe even makes you feel sad or angry. Believe me – your subconscious mind knows that truth – each time you look at this object – even if you’re not aware of it – your subconscious mind registers a negative feeling.
If you add up a lot of these unconscious negative feelings – you will indeed, lose your energy, you will feel drained, and you will become depressed.
But maybe you didn’t go through a painful divorce. Maybe you just have too much stuff but you can’t seem to get rid of it. Maybe your feelings aren’t as strong as pain or anger. That’s OK – just know that literally every single object in your home has energy and your subconscious mind registers a positive or negative feeling about it.
Maybe you’re looking at an old bowl with a couple of cracks in it. How do you feel? Perhaps your memory is that you and your husband found it years ago at a flea market and he bought it for you and you’ve always loved it – even though you don’t use it because of the cracks. You might want to keep this bowl because it brings up feelings of happiness. See how this works?
You can use this method when sorting through a jumbled clothes closet. Pull all of your clothes out of your closet and lay them on your bed or hang things on doors, whatever you need to do. Now your closet is empty. Immediately choose all of the items that you love and put them back in the closet. You shouldn’t have to think about this – you know which ones you love. Put those back in the closet.
Now go through the rest of your clothes – one piece at a time – and when looking at each item – ask yourself how you feel. If you feel happy – then keep it. If you feel sad for any reason – including that you’ve gained too much weight to look good in it – or that you paid a lot of money for it but haven’t worn it – then put it in the “out” pile.
What if it’s a curio that you inherited from your grandmother but you really don’t like it? You’d ask the same question: “How does this make me feel?” Don’t hang on to stuff because of guilt or rationalizations such as “I should like this because it’s from my grandmother.” Look at the item, smile when you remember your grandmother, but know that it’s draining your energy to keep it, and let it go. I promise you, your grandmother wouldn’t want to know that she’s burdening you in this way.
IMAGINE LOVING OR USING EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOME
Can you imagine walking into your home and being surrounded by ONLY items that you use regularly (you don’t have to love your potato peeler but you do have to use it), or things that make you feel happy, energized or simply good?
Can you imagine how much lighter and happier you’d feel? Can you imagine what life would be like without the drain of having too much stuff and especially, too much stuff that you know you should do something with, but you aren’t doing it and you don’t know what to do?
In future posts I’ll show you how you can use your energy to make bigger decisions and also, how to clear out negative thinking. But for now- I’d love for you to practice on your stuff. How about if tonight you pick one shelf, one closet or one corner in a room and do the test? Take everything off of a shelf or closet and put back only the things that make you happy. And then keep going, shelf by shelf, room by room around your house and before you know it – you’ll feel like a newer, happier, and lighter person.
I found this article very useful and am looking forward to hearing how to use this technique with thoughts and feelings.
Have been studying the process of simplifying for about 3 years, reading & gleaning info from any/all books I can get my hands on (thru the library so I don’t gather MORE items in my home)! Learned a lot from your book as well as your site. Making progress-a possible move to a smaller home in the future may be in our future. Feeling lighter & brighter with each passing day . . .
i find this idea bang on and I’ve hopped right on it. I tossed something that was a costly mistake that didnt even work. I felt so strong letting it go! I find your thinking very helpful and I’m eager for more. Love, light and serenity, Mikkala